What lurks in the sewage
Rem could always attempt to enter Krart through its huge sewer system; take Felk with him in order to sneak past the magical wards. However few, the guard still maintained patrols recruited from specialists – scouts, and rangers skilled in underground survival. He hated going down there; even a short trek into the sewers could quickly transform into a deadly ordeal. If one of these patrols or a group of Levoah's agents crossed his way, Rem had to halt and go back. If his cloak of improved invisibility carried enough magical charge, he would've had a much greater chance of success. Nevertheless, skilled in the ways of stealthy movement across any terrain, he believed that sneaking through the sewers was probably the best way. He only need travel for a short time, then exit the sewers behind the Eastern Gate. If he committed to this option, Val would have to be smuggled in one of the crates, under the protection of Bortom and his people. Still hurting from his barely healed wounds, with the help of his maid Rem donned Cyant and picked up the stealthy crossbow, “Loom”. Teeth gritting, he then sheathed Sap and Sparrow on the belt and, after wishing everybody good luck, stealthily strutted towards the nearest sewer pipe. Floating next to him was Felk, whose eyes did not glow, so he would not pinpoint Rem's position to those who kept watch.
There were certain paths into the city, which only hardened criminals and those skillful few who hunted them used. While he climbed down the barely seen hidden ladder, Rem did not think about the Useless – in this city there existed groups much more terrifying and deadly. The pipe he descended down and entered Krart's sewer tunnels through was one of these paths, which for no reason any solver of problems would ever share with others. Just slithering through the concealed entrance of this passage was a near-death ordeal on itself, and then came the layers of traps... No, junior adventurers or normal people would needlessly lose their lives trying to enter, let alone survive the critters which roamed below. Only after his boots safely touched the stone floor and Felk's faintly emitting magic eyes scoured their surroundings for more, this time magical traps, could Rem relax a bit. He carefully explored the corridor's pungent depths; after noticing the lack of glowing eyes and the overwhelming silence, the solver of problems gave his companion a sign.
“Yes, I guess you are correct, Rem. There is someone lurking about, whose passage through these corridors convinced their previous occupants to rapidly vacate the premises.” - Boomed the lich's voice in Rem's mind.
“I suspected that Levoah would send some of her hired specialists down here, maybe two or three six men teams. Kan's Grace, for these sewer critters to dash away and leave their hunting grounds, did she deploy a small army?!” - Once their magical telepathic link was established, he could also use it and intended to fully exploit it, for the entire duration of this sewage trip.
“By now, master Rem, I am not sure that this countess has only mere hirelings serving under her. No matter how good a specialist one humanoid is, these monstrous creatures rarely fear man or... woman.” - Felk floated under Rem's cloak, so even the faint glow which his eye sockets emitted would be concealed from prying sensory receptors.
“Monsters can only be so terrified by the presence of another, much bigger and more vicious than them monster. But, Felk, answer me this – weren't creature control magics forbidden and then lost ages ago?”
“Let me answer your inquiry with a question of my own. Do you think that heretical Levoah bitch cares what spells or means she employs in order to fulfill her dubious goals?” - Felk's voice sounded enraged, laden with much anger, when he uttered the countess' name.
“What do you think it is? They wouldn't just unleash something which her specialists can't control - my money is on a trained beast. Perhaps we are both overthinking it, Felk...”
“Mayhap we are, master Rem. Let us move and quickly, the sooner we reach that city drainage pipe, the better...”
His footsteps quieted and shape concealed to the best of his ability, Rem skulked down the tunnel. If the invisibility magic in his cloak was not depleted he'd use it and, combined with his considerable skill, the solver of problems would move unseen and unheard, reach his destination with little trouble. Now, it would seem that a bigger problem had been deployed down here, left for him to solve. Whatever could this... thing be? Rem had his pets and used them more often than not, but he would never even dream of unleashing anything dangerous or hard to control. Levoah on the other hand, her noble House was never that concerned about the consequences of their actions – only the fact that they had achieved their gains mattered to them. Even though through his channels Rem was informed that these nobles were apparently “toning it down”, and had in fact become more reasonable, he now knew better. The very fact that she dared procure a living, unborn soul, was indicative of her unclean intentions. As a faithful Kannite, he could not even imagine any of his friends and allies even attempting something like this. The only way she or those working for her could achieve this would be to kill an innocent baby, mere seconds before the child was born. Most probably they did this vile deed, safely hidden in some of the outlying towns – in Krart itself, priests were too many and all over the city. No matter the means these people employed, Temple agents could detect this vile transgression and eventually apprehend those responsible. There was another option Levoah could recover said soul, which Rem's priest friend, the mummy Zaratos, mentioned in passing. Though who or better yet how could anyone convince a spirit messenger of God Kan to voluntarily get himself locked in that warded chest?! Moreover, that blue steel bracelet on its hand – it was an artifact which belonged to the temple of Kan. The plot as they said in Krart was “deeper than the ancient dungeons beneath it's cobbled streets” and only by employing all of his connections, could he even begin to scratch said plot's surface.
Careful as to not slip deeper into thinking and carelessly stumble into an ambush or a trap, Rem halted his stealthy stride. One hand lifted the side of his cloak, so Felk could once more use his magics, locate and then help them bypass the city wards. Whispering one of his spells, the lich's skull became almost too hot to hold, yet Rem tightened his grip. If he would drop his friend, who knew what could happen? Losing his concentration, the lich might trigger one of Krart's wards or even worse – some olden, left by the criminals trap. By now, his people should be passing through the Eastern Gate and the reinforcements, near it, ready to escort him. Felk gave him the go, only after he had successfully convinced the wards that there was no one here and they continued moving forward. Took another fifteen minutes of slow, careful sneaking, before Rem halted and hugged the darkest of shadows he could find. Before them stood a pumping station, one of the deep holes fitted with olden alchemist machines which still remained intact and operational. Simply spewing the aromatic and quite disgusting, raw city sewage straight into the clean Sleu river, was never an option. In the past they may have done it, but not today – said river was an indispensable source of food and drinking water. Therefore some of said sewage was left to seep down a large hole, which to nobody's surprise, led to a much deeper place – the second or even third dungeon beneath the city. The pumping station's job was to keep the pugnant “liquids” flowing from other tunnels and prevent any overspilling. It also served as a fortified outpost for the city guard; a small unit of these underground specialists patrolled this area, on the look for trouble causing individuals. Rem's sight caught something out of the ordinary though – five Krartian scouts and three rangers (he could catch the differences in their gear) were caught out in the open, weapons drawn and surrounded on all sides. Their camouflage cloaks and heavy duty boots seemed dirty; covered with greenish mud and slimy pieces of garbage – it was the night shift. Meaning that they were most probably tired, maybe even wounded and definitely out of supplies. The identity of their fifteen opponents was made immediately apparent to him – their equipment, weapons and armor were exactly the same of those who attempted to murder him and kidnap Valeria. This time four of them even carried automatic crossbows and three wielded peculiarly designed short spears, sporting vicious-looking sickle shaped blades. It didn't look good; one of the guards already lay dead on the floor, her eye pierced by a crossbow bolt. Rem could imagine what had occurred – the guards, being exceptionally well trained in detecting movement, spotting concealed persons or things, stumbled upon this group of Levoah's specialists. Then the guards attempted to apprehend them, and not knowing who these assassins were, bit considerably more that they could chew. Taking care of the monstrous critters in the sewers was something Krart's rangers and scouts were highly capable of. A group of Useless they could also dispatch of and with apparent ease, yet these extremely well outfitted killers were soon about to slaughter the guards. However, none of these groups had detected his presence, which opened a number of paths before Rem:
His wounds were yet to fully heal, therefore Rem sneakily aimed his own and very quiet crossbow “Loom”, first at the four enemy shooters. He would then change position, hug every shadow and attempt to aid the guards while still remaining stealthed. After enough of Levoah's specialists were shot dead, and the guard's survival ensured, the solver of problems would continue on his way to the city proper. He had plenty of covered with “Choke Death” bolts, and only if these assassins were dark elves or possessed extreme fortitude, they could resist the poison's bite. Hopefully even those of them who didn't die would fall asleep, captured and then later interrogated by the guards. That might even put a stopper to Levoah's aim to use the city guards against Rem. He knelt, gave Felk a sign to get ready his magics and aimed down the iron sights. Thanks to the crossbow's Night Watch enchantment, he easily picked his first target and pulled the trigger... - If that is Rem's choice, vote 1 in your comment.
Wounds or not, he had excellent relations with the city guard in the past. It was his contacts among the guards who helped him keep all that cult massacre thing a secret. That and they did provide his network of informants with quality, oftentimes lifesaving tips. Even though his was not the cleanest of reputations, Rem was still a good Krartian citizen and people here helped each other in a pinch. No one knew when or if the person you saved today, would pull your ass out of the fire one turn down the line. Moreover, aiding this surrounded patrol could gain him favor with guard's brass, something which he desperately needed right now. Carefully he aimed “Loom” at the nearest crossbow wielding lurker; Rem would leap out from the shadows sword and dagger in hand, but only after he shot at least five of them dead, preferably more. - If that is Rem's choice, vote 2 in your comment.
Regrettably, this was not his problem right now; a dangerous melee like this and with him still wounded, could very well end with his death. No matter how much he wanted to help the guards, the number of extremely well outfitted and trained assassins he had to face, was one too many. One had to face reality – skill, quality gear, and experience were not always enough to beat such odds. Rem kept to the shadows while both groups murdered each other, and with a heavy heart, he snuck towards the nearest exit. - If that is Rem's choice, vote 3 in your comment.
Link to Solver of problems, episode 2 part 1.
Link to Solver of Problems, episode 2 part 3.
Link to Solver of Problems, episode 2 part 4.
Link to Solver of Problems, episode 2 part 5.